Telcos waive bills during Houston hurricane recovery

Carriers say they're holding up – more flooding is likely

Houston skyline

With Houston in the midst of severe flooding from Hurricane Harvey, telcos say they are so far maintaining service and will help with emergency efforts by waiving service costs.

Mobile carriers AT&T, Verizon and T‑Mobile all say they will be providing residents of the areas hit hardest by the storm free calls and data service during the storm and recovery efforts.

The carriers each say that both prepaid and postpaid plans in Houston and surrounding parts of Texas and Louisiana will have some or all of their costs waived.

Many residents have been relying on mobile phones and social media to keep in touch with loved ones and to coordinate rescues during the massive storm that made landfall this weekend. Harvey still stands to dump unprecedentedly heavy rain in some parts of the two states.

Comcast says it will be opening up more than 53,000 Wi‑Fi hotspots around the Houston area to the general public in order to help residents and emergency responders maintain connectivity during rescue efforts.

The companies providing the internet backbone for the area have also taken additional precautions to make sure people in Houston can keep in touch. A spokesperson for Level 3 Communications told The Register that as of Monday morning, all of its facilities have held up to the storm and despite isolated outages the majority of its network in the region is still able to carry traffic.

"We have taken steps to confirm that our redundant backup systems, emergency generators and UPS batteries are in place and ready in the event that commercial power becomes unavailable or remains unavailable," Level 3 says.

"We are prepared to continue to provide business continuity and service support through redundant systems and secondary power resources indefinitely, so long as refueling resources are available to us."

According to The Weather Channel, Harvey is set to continue to dump heavy rain in the Houston area for most of this week before making its way inland. ®

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